In my first educational rant, I made two assertions. First, education is not necessary for financial well-being. Second, financial well-being is not necessary for a happy life. These are two lessons that are rarely, if ever taught in public schools and establishments of higher education. In this rampage, I would like to expand upon the second assertion. Happiness is based on our relationship to others.
Proper perspective is necessary for a happy life
Socially speaking, high school is a popularity contest. I hated being perceived as a nerd in high school and college. In general, girls don’t date nerds (The dating that takes place on the television sitcom Big Bang Theory is fiction). Jocks treat nerds as if they were subhumans. I loathed how I was perceived and treated. By letting them get to me, I let them destroy me. I let them win the emotional battle in my mind. I grew to hate jocks. I learned not to trust women.
I did not know that when you base worth on perception, then your perceived worth will be in a constant flux as you compare yourself to others, and as others compare themselves to you. You are in a constant struggle to be better than someone else to feel better about yourself. If you lose the battle, you end up hating yourself and others. If you win, you might feel a little better, but you still hate others. High school motivational speaker Mark Sharenbroich said…
Live freely. Stop worrying so much about how you’re perceived. And rekindle just a tiny bit of that spark you had back in first grade. I think the sad thing is when little kids go, “Time. Yeah, okay I get it. How other people see me is how I should see myself. What other people think about me should be what I think about myself.” It’s one thing to be aware of how you are perceived. It’s a completely different issue to let how you are seen control how you see.1
Being controlled by perceptions motivated by self-love does not make for a happy life, but a life of emotional battle. It is a focus on self that neglects the love of others. Sharenbroich said, “Love a lot. Just make sure you’re giving people value…instead of taking it away.”
Love is necessary for a happy life
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
Schools are not good at teaching love. Through coercion, they may produce behavior that gives an outward appearance of love. Outside of the classroom, schools foster the detrimental hateful comparisons described above. Inside the classroom, students are supposed to be quiet, speaking only when spoken to. Schools heavily depend on extracurricular activities for relationship building. Yet not all children excel at sports. Not all are musically talented. Not all are actors. Students who are involved in sports and extracurricular activities learn to work and play with others. Students who break the classroom rules (talking during class, passing notes, etc.) also develop relationship skills. They are the ones who are likely to achieve a modicum of happiness and worldly success, because they have learned to love others.
We are born relational creatures. We find happiness in loving relationships, whether to a brother, sister, mother, father, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife. We find our greatest happiness when we are in a relationship with our Creator, who made us to find joy in Him.